I was one of the first journalists to drive the ZDX, and I enjoyed my entire experience. I was, let me say, up around Monterey and Carmel in California, enjoying a fabulous couple of days of sightseeing, dining, and staying at the wonderful Post Ranch Inn. It was a luxurious vacation experience in the lavishly appointed and trimmed ZDX, a car that follows in the design shadow of the ungainly BMW GTs, cars I find grotesquely unattractive. The second I set eyes on the ZDX, I gasped audibly. But on second glance (when I opened my scrunched eyes), the ZDX was definitely more shapely and better proportioned. And I quickly got used to driving it on the twisty narrow roads around Carmel Valley and south on Highway 1.
Now the ZDX is in our garage. It looks tall, narrow, and ungainly. Inside, it is narrow, high-cowled, and the roof feels confining. At night, the console lights are too numerous and difficult to sort in usable groups, although I know that any owner would become quickly familiar with everything. We’ll find that out for sure when we take delivery of a Four Seasons test ZDX shortly. It was snowing and cold, and the ZDX became my immediate boon companion on the highway. By day, the interior becomes less confusing, and the materials are as sumptuous as I remember from last year’s drive.
We’ll see how a one-year fling plays out for us and the ZDX. But right now, I can’t relate.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
Like Jean, I was actually pretty fond of the ZDX when I first saw it in person but I’m having a harder time convincing myself this time around. At that time, I wrote in my notes, “Most of my colleagues are baffled by the looks of the ZDX, but I actually kind of like it. At the very least, it’s bold and futuristic. It’s strange, though, that Honda-perennial master of packaging-would build a car in which even a five-foot-six person like me hits his head on the ceiling when seated in back. I guess that’s a sacrifice Honda chose to make in the interest of styling.”
Given the ZDX’s swoopy roofline, I figured that it’d be a pain to thread my one-year-old daughter and her child seat into the back row of the ZDX, but it wasn’t terribly difficult. Of course, I had to be very careful not to bonk either of our heads against the low doorframe.
In the front of the cabin, Acura’s busy entertainment controls require a fair amount of taking your eyes off the road to aim for the proper button, although, as Jean notes, most owners should get used to this fairly quickly.
I have no doubts about how much I like the powerfully smooth 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6, though. I’m looking forward to a year with the ZDX, if only to more thoroughly evaluate both the powertrain and the handling of this four-door-coupe/SUV thing. This time around, I thought the car handled well but was severely lacking in steering feel, despite the comfortable, thick steering wheel itself.
Did anyone else notice that when you shut the driver’s door, it resonates like a gong? Not too impressive, Honda. Hopefully this can be blamed on a preproduction car…
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Visually, I like the way the Acura ZDX looks from the back and the side; the front, however, I’m not a fan of-at least not yet. The interior is somewhat spacious, once you’re in. Getting passengers into that interior is like a game of limbo; you need to put one leg in first, duck, roll your head down, strain your neck, swing your upper body, then pull the other leg in. I transported three people in the back seat to dinner one night and all three complained, “how do you get in this thing?” as they were attempting to do so.
On the road the ZDX behaves well for a big vehicle with car-like agility; there’s no doubt Acura’s SH-AWD system helps trek through the slippery conditions. The thick steering wheel is a handful, literally, and really makes the ZDX feel heavy. As Rusty pointed out, the steering felt a bit lazy, without much feedback. I’ve always been a fan of Acura’s navigation system, and the joystick used to, well, navigate it. The Real-Time traffic is usually spot-on and can really save you from a commuting headache if you pay attention.
I’m looking forward to our upcoming Four-Seasons Acura ZDX that will be arriving soon. In the mean time, it’s nice to have a taste of what’s to come.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
I’m struck by the ZDX’s tall sills, and how high the floor itself is off the ground in relation to the roof; it reminds me of stepping into an early-90s Toyota 4Runner. I’m puzzled why this vehicle, which is clearly not an off-roader, rides so high off the ground. I can deal with the exterior styling, and I can even deal with the hugely compromised ingress/egress situation for the rear seat, caused by the tiny, wing-shaped rear doors. But I would be more forgiving of those packaging-for-styling compromises if the ZDX simply were lower to the ground and thus had more vertical room in it.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Like most of my colleagues, I have a hard time coming to grips with the styling of the ZDX. To me, it looks ungainly – it’s too tall and has an oversized proboscis and an oddly proportioned rear end. Inside, the dash is simply too busy, to the point of being distracting: there are two different kinds of textured plastic, a swath of leather, and a strip of metallic, all layered one on top of the other. While the materials appear first-rate and the fit is impeccable, this is an example where the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
“Man maximum, machine minimum.” That’s a phrase I learned last fall when I had the privilege of touring Honda’s R&D headquarters in Wako, Japan. It’s a core Honda design philosophy exemplified by cars like the Fit, a 2600-pound subcompact capable of hauling so much stuff that the EPA is compelled to classify it as a “small station wagon.”
It’s in this context that I’m having a whole heap of trouble understanding and accepting the ZDX, a 4419-pound, 300-hp car/crossover thing that has two feet less cargo volume than the Fit. The ZDX is hardly the first or the worst offender in this nonsensical new segment, but once again, we’re talking about Honda. This is the company that politely passed on the entire body-on-frame, V-8 SUV explosion in the late 90s. What happened?
OK, deep breath. Troubling as it is for Honda’s true believers, the ZDX has plenty of merits. As Jean noted, the vehicle itself is quite attractive. It’s the first Acura that really pulls off the new angular design language. The interior clearly represents a considerable investment, with beautiful leather and impeccable fit and finish, though I’d still like to see more advanced telematics. Short folks like myself will have a difficult time climbing into the vehicle without mucking up their pant legs on the wide, tall door sill. Dynamically, the vehicle is hard to fault, and indeed has the same magical capability as BMW’s car/crossover things (I don’t know what else to call them). The 3.7-liter V-6 is as smooth as ever, steering is nicely weighted, and the suspension, which is set in “sport” mode via a satisfying knob, allows not a lick of body roll.
The ZDX will likely make a better impression on all of us when the roads thaw and we’re able to really appreciate its athleticism. But even then, it will be a difficult vehicle to rationalize from a company that has long made a virtue of rationality.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
After a weekend with the ZDX, I grew to really like its angular sheetmetal. It’s dynamic and muscular without looking too aggressive or over-the-top. The new Acura face still looks a bit odd but it works better here than on the brand’s sedans. Plus, the rich brown metallic paint on this specific test car really makes the chrome around the windows and tailpipes pop.
As Joe mentioned, ingress and egress are far too difficult. Shorter people will find it difficult to step up and over the wide doorsill-a handle on the A-pillar would be helpful-and those who are tall and even not so tall will have to mind the low roofline or possibly risk head trauma. The interior is a little snug but the fit and finish are top-notch. The use of leather on dash surfaces can go very wrong but Acura used it to good effect in the ZDX’s interior. The door cubbies are nice and large and the small slots on either side of the central console are perfect for cell phones and iPods.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
Ah, the platypus of automobiles. Does it cause you to wrinkle your forehead with confusion, or smile at the idea of something unique? Yes, it shares a general shape with the BMW X6, BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo, and Honda Accord Crosstour, but the Acura ZDX carries the dynamic suggestion of the slanted hatch into the rest of the angular lines. It’s downright ugly from some angles, but the profile view is growing on me.
Like a venomous, egg-laying mammal, the ZDX leads to more questions than answers. For that reason, I suppose I’m glad we’ll have a ZDX in our garage for a year. Because after one night with the Acura crossover coupe, I’m struggling to understand it.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2010 Acura ZDX
Base price (with destination): $56,855
Price as tested: $56,855
Standard Equipment (with Advanced Package):
3.7L V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
Super Handling all-wheel-drive (SH-AWD)
Acura navigation system with real-time traffic
Voice recognition system
435-watt audio system with 10 speakers
Hard disk drive, in-dash CD/DVD-audio/MP3 player
XM satellite radio
Leather seating surfaces
GPS-linked climate control
6-way power front seats
Heated and ventilated front seats
Blind spot information system
Adaptive cruise control
Collision mitigation braking system
Power panoramic multi-panel sunroof
Options on this vehicle:
Key options not on vehicle:
Remote engine starter system – $360
Towing package – $500
16 / 23 / 20 mpg
Size: 3.7L V-6
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
6-speed Sequential SportShift automatic
Weight: 4419 lb
19 x 8.5-inch aluminum alloy wheels
P255/50R19 Michelin latitude tour hp all-season tires